UAB’s Petersen named Public Health dean by USF

After nearly one year of searching, Patricia Burns can finally say that a new dean will settle in at the College of Public Health. Donna Petersen, a former professor and senior associate dean at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was named the new dean of the college yesterday.

Burns, the dean of the College of Nursing, was the head of the search committee organized to find a new dean.

“(The search was narrowed down to) nine candidates for telephone interviews, but (Petersen) was chosen for her knowledge of public health, her enthusiasm for moving the college forward and her spirit of camaraderie,” Burns said.

Michael Hoad, associate vice president for the USF Health Sciences Center, said that Petersen is the perfect fit for her new position.

“She is clearly ready for the job,” Hoad said. “She has been a star researcher in the area of health for mothers and babies. More recently, she expanded to take on leadership issues in public health.

“This is a full blown college of public health,” he said. “(USF offers) up to doctorate degree in public health and it’s the only (college) in the state which does. It has also grown so fast in terms of research money that it is a very attractive college for people to be a dean.”

Petersen’s job as dean will include building up USF’s research and educational programs.

She will begin her deanship on Oct. 31, almost two months after Stephen Klasko takes over as the dean of the School of Medicine and the permanent vice president of Health Sciences. Petersen’s salary will be approximately $225,000, according to Hoad.

“(The College of) Public Health is going to design the next generation of health care in America,” Hoad said. “(Petersen) is perfectly suited for that.”